Trip Meter 155 miles
Silver City, New Mexico
December 1, 2012
We have traveled 155 miles from Benson, Arizona into Southwestern New Mexico to the small town of Silver City. This is billed as the town that looks like Santa Fe looked before it was discovered and mobbed by people. We had to judge for ourselves. Silver City will also be the jumping off place for us to drive in our car, up to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument 45 miles north.
Before we make it to Silver City however, we experience a little engine problem with the MH, or more accurately, a fuel delivery problem. Leaving Benson, I pulled out to pass a semi going slightly slower than we were and I could just barely get around- it took long minutes to pull ahead. I looked out the windows wondering if somehow we were heading up a steep hill and the flat nature of the ground was an optical illusion! Then other semis started blowing by me, leading me to believe either they were all unloaded or I was not getting full power. If I backed off and didn't push it, we did okay, but if I pushed it at all the engine would vibrate like we were going over a never ending rumble strip. Twenty miles further on, in Lordsburg we pulled over and had some lunch, drained the water separator on the fuel filter, and saw nothing but fuel- Hmmm. I was not yet entirely convinced that we had a serious problem. We could still roll along the flats at 65 MPH after all- how bad could it be? I decided we'd head off for Silver City and deal with the power issue in Deming a few days hence. As we are rolling out of town Joan reminds me Silver City is in the mountains some 3700 feet higher than we are now (elev 5895'). No problem- it may take us a little longer I say. Well we crested the Continental Divide at 30 mph and the engine faltering. There is a wide spot just big enough to get the coach off the travel lane. Here, in the middle of nowhere, I decide it's time to change fuel filter. We have a spare for this very situation- how hard could it be?
I should mention, we have done this before. In our driveway before we sold our home in Medford. Back then we built a kit of plugs and accessories, and read up on how to do it, and it kinda worked out okay. We got stuck on step one, which is to fill the new filter with good clean diesel. I get the idea of bleeding off diesel from the filter drain as the engine is running- supplying new fuel- hopefully supplying it in grater quantities than we drain out. We had siphoned off enough diesel to fill the new filter about 1/2 full when the engine starts to falter and run rough. I tear forward at full speed to the driver's seat and shut off the key!- Yikes! Now what??
Time to hit the internet. We have a 4G signal- WOW! who would have guessed- certainly not me. Others have successfully used automatic transmission fluid (ATF) for this purpose. We have most of a quart in the basement- do we dare? Really? ATF?. Well we are dead now-so why not?
One of the things I've been wondering about is that on this lonely road only about 6 vehicles have come in either direction since we stopped with hood up, none of them slowing, or stopping to ask if we need help. Finally two men in a white Dodge duelly pick up pull up behind us and come forward to ask what's wrong. I gave a quick run down and ask if they have experience in this. The older of the two says not directly with a big CAT motor, but lots with his pick up. He asks why we don't just turn on the key and let the electric pump fill the filter like he does on his Dodge. I explained that Caterpillar did not see fit to have an electric pump or a manual lift pump on the 3126E. The engine pump is it. With the courage born of mutual consensus, we decide to top off the filter and install it- see what happens. I go forward to crank the motor one stays at the engine hatch to watch. It sounds like it wants to catch but won't quite go. I cool the starter with wet cloths and we go for round two. My road angel loosens the return hose and plugs the port with his finger and the engine starts, and stays running!! We shut down, re-attach everything, and they turn to leave. I said wait! let me thank you. I grab their hands and shake, effusing with gratitude I ask if I may compensate them. No, they won't have it, stop by the bowling alley he replies, and they get in their truck and drive off toward Silver City. I didn't even get their names. True Samaritans.
The Coach runs great again, and we cruise the final 28 miles into Silver City without incident.
We get setup in the Silver City RV Park, a smallish 45 space urban park with gravel spaces full hookups, and wifi. After getting our home in livable configuration, we decide to hike off on foot to old downtown and check out this new Santa Fe. It gets dark on us before we have walked more than about 10 blocks of old town, so we head back home to grill dinner. From what we saw, we are not ready to embrace the Santa Fe moniker-but we'll keep an open mind, 'til we've seen more.
It's dark when we get back, so I use my headlamp to see to grill the burgers, and we have a fancy dinner of avocado burgers and fries.
Tomorrow we're off to the the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, and time to explore more of Silver City.